Frequently Asked Questions

Still have questions about leather?

Is it leather is an initiative that supports the leather industry. Our education and transparency-focused campaign is helping to raise awareness among consumers on a wide variety of issues regarding real vs. fake leather products.

isitleather.com is a central hub for leather. We help educate consumers, promote transparency, and advocate for real, ethical, and sustainable leather.

The purpose of this campaign is to raise awareness. Many consumers are unaware that real leather is being replaced by fake leather (plastic-based) products. We encourage transparency and believe that consumers should know exactly what their products are made from so that they are able to make a well-informed purchase decision.

Real leather refers to a natural product made from the skin of an animal. It’s typically sourced from cows, goats, sheep, and pigs. Unlike synthetic alternatives, real leather is durable, flexible, and naturally breathable. Each piece is unique in its textures and inconsistencies, making it highly sought after for fashion, furniture, and more. 

  • Full-grain leather: The highest quality of leather. Features the complete, unaltered hide.
  • Top-grain leather: Outer layer of the hide. Slightly refined for a smoother appearance.
  • Genuine leather: Middle-grade quality. Not as durable as full or top-grain but better than bonded.
  • Bonded leather: Made from leftover leather scraps. Considered the lowest quality of natural leather.

Real natural leather refers to products made entirely from leather, without any synthetic additives or portions. On the other hand, genuine leather is often a term used to describe a lower quality of leather that might be layered with other materials and may not be ‘pure’ or entirely made from animal hide.

PU leather, also known as polyurethane leather, is a type of synthetic leather made from thermoplastic polymer. It’s a popular alternative to genuine leather due to its lower cost and increased durability. However, it lacks the natural smell and aging characteristics of real leather and is less breathable.

PU leather, commonly known as polyurethane leather, is often marketed as a vegan alternative to genuine leather. However, while it doesn’t involve the use of animal hides, its production relies on petroleum-based products, which raises environmental and ethical concerns. 

Faux leather, often referred to as synthetic leather material attempts to mimic the appearance and texture of real leather using various plastic materials. While it may be presented as a cheaper alternative to real leather, it lacks the authenticity, longevity, and rich feel of genuine leather products. It’s commonly found in furniture, clothing, and other items but doesn’t offer the same timeless quality and charm as true leather.

Pleather, short for ‘plastic leather’, is a synthetic imitation of leather, often made from PVC or polyurethane. While cheaper and touted as vegan-friendly, it lacks the durability and feel of higher-quality leathers and has environmental concerns due to its petroleum-based components.

Leatherette is a synthetic material designed to resemble natural leather. It’s often made from a fabric base coated with plastic layers, typically PVC or polyurethane. While leatherette provides a more affordable alternative to natural leather, its production, especially when involving PVC, raises environmental concerns due to its dependence on fossil fuels and the release of harmful byproducts.

Leather comes from nature and helps us reduce waste! It has been used for centuries as a logical and effective way to make use of leftover hides and increase the utilization of the animal. While some criticize the tanning process, it is hard to argue that throwing leftover animal hides into landfills and replacing leather with plastic alternatives is a sustainable practice. If you want more information regarding the sustainability of leather, please visit our Sustainability page.

The leather industry, indeed, comes with personal ethical considerations. However, it’s important to note that most leather is a byproduct of the meat industry. Thus, while it does involve animal skin, most leather isn’t the primary reason an animal is slaughtered, though this doesn’t negate the ethical considerations involved.

Real leather products offer many benefits in addition to being luxurious, long-lasting, and high-performing. To learn more about why so many consumers love leather, visit our Benefits of Leather page.

Plastic replacing leather affects many consumers in two main ways:

  1. Plastic products are often lower quality than real leather.
  2. Plastic based products are often not clearly labeled as “fake” leather, creating a confusing marketplace for consumers.

While there should be clear labelling and transparent disclosure of the material used, it is not always the case. View our How to tell Real vs Fake Leather page to learn more.

Plastic alternative “fake” leather products are often not durable, can show wear and tear and crack. These alternatives are of lower quality than leather and do not hold their value when compared to real leather.

Common fake leather alternative names include the following:

  • Vegan Leather
  • PU Leather
  • Faux Leather
  • Leatherette
  • Pleather
  • Imitation Leather
  • Artificial Leather
Be direct that you desire REAL leather when you buy a product. Ask questions and demand that the product you are purchasing is made from leather.
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